I grew up in a pretty remote area of Canada. A couple thousand people in the mountains, maybe a couple more at the bottom in what we'd call a 'city' and you'd probably call a village.
Prices for television in areas like that? You don't want to hear it. But somehow, my parents scraped up enough for a handful of channels. I'd watch NASCAR with my dad, I'd sit on the steps while he worked on his own cars, I'd play with Hot Wheels and pretend to be Jeff Gordon.
I never actually expected to see any of it in reality. My family, too poor. Me, too busy. But one day, in that city-that-was-actually-a-village, I spotted it. It wasn't Jeff, it wasn't some fancy sports car that I had a toy of.
It was a trailer for one of Bobby Labonte's cars, specifically one of the Pontiac Grand Prix makes.
At the time, I was sitting in a fast food parking lot with my dad, and I thought to myself "Maybe it's just a fan who painted their horse trailer?" but the longer I looked, the more I thought that the trailer itself was a little too big for horses. (Though, not big enough for that horsepower, am I right?)
And that's when they opened up the back of the trailer; I saw my first, and only, race car in person. Sure, it was across the street and gloomy, and they had likely only opened up the back to check on the car--but for me, it was an experience. Something I had seen on TV, in front of me. Proof that it was reality--and as flowery as these words are, they're how I felt. Maybe I was an impressionable kid, but just looking at cars gave me a thrill.
As of today, I still haven't seen another one. Not of that calibre. Not a green, mean, racing machine like that. It's not like I never will again, but as I'm sure anyone knows... you'll never forget your first car.